RACE, WATER, AND THE COMING STORM
An unflinching look at a beautiful, endangered, tourist-pummeled, and history-filled American city.
At least thirteen million Americans will have to move away from American coasts in the coming decades, as rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms put lives at risk and cause billions of dollars in damages. In Charleston, South Carolina, denial, boosterism, widespread development, and public complacency about racial issues compound; the city, like our country, has no plan to protect its most vulnerable. In these pages, Susan Crawford tells the story of a city that has played a central role in America's painful racial history for centuries and now, as the waters rise, stands at the intersection of climate and race.
Unbeknownst to the seven million mostly white tourists who visit the charming streets of the lower peninsula each year, the Holy City is in a deeply precarious position. Weaving science, narrative history, and the family stories of Black Charlestonians, Charleston chronicles the tumultuous recent past in the life of the city—from protests to hurricanes—while revealing the escalating risk in its future. A bellwether for other towns and cities, Charleston is emblematic of vast portions of the American coast, with a future of inundation juxtaposed against little planning to ensure a thriving future for all residents.
In Charleston, we meet Rev. Joseph Darby, a well-regarded Black minister with a powerful voice across the city and region who has an acute sense of the city's shortcomings when it comes to matters of race and water. We also hear from Michelle Mapp, one of the city's most promising Black leaders, and Quinetha Frasier, a charismatic young Black entrepreneur with Gullah-Geechee roots who fears her people’s displacement. And there is Jacob Lindsey, a young white city planner charged with running the city’s ten-year “comprehensive plan” efforts who ends up working for a private developer. These and others give voice to the extraordinary risks the city is facing.
The city of Charleston, with its explosive gentrification over the last thirty years, crystallizes a human tendency to value development above all else. At the same time, Charleston stands for our need to change our ways—and the need to build higher, drier, more densely-connected places where all citizens can live safely.
Illuminating and vividly rendered, Charleston is a clarion call and filled with characters who will stay in the reader’s mind long after the final page.
“All true climate-change stories are about the abuse of power. Knowing this, Susan Crawford makes a plea for climate justice in Charleston, her sweeping case study of the South Carolina city. Crawford’s book stands apart from its predecessors because of its sustained focus on one threatened city. Charleston is a fascinating and haunted locale, and Crawford is gifted at sketching its grossness and grace.”
—Emily Raboteau, New York Times Book Review
“Crawford’s book about Charleston’s imminent coastal climate crisis, intertwined with the city’s racial issues, is truly an eye-opener. Crawford’s writing style is clear and engaging, and she deftly involves the reader in the problems she addresses. An engaging book on the important national intersection of racism and the natural environment. Ideal for book discussion groups or citywide reading.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Crawford persuasively links the precarious position of the city’s Black neighborhoods to other 'legacies of slavery and racism,' including segregated schools and a lack of affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. By turns heartbreaking and hopeful, this is an eye-opening look behind Charleston’s genteel facade.”
“Days after reading Susan Crawford’s masterful Charleston: Race, Water and the Coming Storm, I found myself telling strangers impromptu anecdotes about the South Carolina coastal city. This is a fascinating, in-depth, soul-searching look at a beautiful city with a dark past and an uncertain future. It’s a book that I wish every community could have for facing economic inequality, racial injustice and climate change. In a blend of history, policy, science and journalism, Crawford brings Charleston to life and reveals why the city is a harbinger for the United States and the world.”
—Laura Trethewey, author of Imperiled Ocean
“One of the nation’s finest public interest technologists, Susan Crawford has used her pen and position to shed light on the rural, low-income communities left out of the story of America’s digital future. In Charleston, Crawford once again asks us not to look away, detailing the inner life of a city’s legacy of racism, and calling into question whether that history will drown Black and low-income residents in the present tense, as waters rise and levees break across Charleston and America's coastal cities. This is a book that will stay with you long after you've turned its final page.”
—Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, author of From Generosity to Justice
THE COMING TECH REVOLUTION —AND WHY AMERICA MIGHT MISS IT
The world of fiber optic connections reaching neighborhoods, homes, and businesses will represent as great a change from what came before as the advent of electricity. The virtually unlimited amounts of data we’ll be able to send and receive through fiber optic connections will enable a degree of virtual presence that will radically transform health care, education, urban administration and services, agriculture, retail sales, and offices. Yet all of those transformations will pale compared with the innovations and new industries that we can’t even imagine today.
In a fascinating account combining policy expertise and compelling on-the-ground reporting, Susan Crawford reveals how the giant corporations that control cable and internet access in the United States use their tremendous lobbying power to tilt the playing field against competition, holding back the infrastructure improvements necessary for the country to move forward. And she shows how a few cities and towns are fighting monopoly power to bring the next technological revolution to their communities.
“A damning indictment, grounded in facts, and a critically important story…. Even for those familiar with the subject, Fiber offers a number of valuable insights…. Crawford is at her best when describing the astonishingly innovative organizational setups of community-based fiber initiatives and how they came about, when detailing the machinations of telecom incumbents and their lobbyists to cripple these initiatives, and when explaining how local champions of fiber have sometimes been able to neutralize attempts to derail them.”
—Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Science
“A timely and urgent look at how America is sacrificing its digital future, productivity, connectivity, social mobility, entrepreneurial growth, education, and every other public good, thanks to rapacious telcos, scumbag lobbyists, and negligent, cash-hungry politicians….You should be reading this.”
—Cory Doctorow, President, Boing Boing
“If we can just finish the last mile for fiber to reach into households, Susan Crawford shows, we can unleash a revolution of economic growth, education, and health, and address inequality in a whole new way. Crawford shifts effortlessly from the heights of policy to the literal ground level and shows us the way.”
—Anthony Marx, President, New York Public Library
“By vividly describing a world filled with fiber-enabled technology as well as the perils and possibilities for achieving it, Susan Crawford has written a playbook for a fairer and more prosperous United States.”
—Andy Berke, Mayor, Chattanooga, Tennessee
“Engaging and accessible… An indictment of national regulatory politics and crony capitalism and a love story about the plucky local governments overcoming the odds to bring their own communities into the 21st century. A microcosm of what ails America—and what nonetheless can give us hope.”
—Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
THE RESPONSIVE CITY:
ENGAGING COMMUNITIES THROUGH DATA-SMART GOVERNANCE
Urban government in the United States today is at a critical juncture. Never before over the last century has there been such a need to change the way city hall works. And never has there been such an opportunity to do it.” – From the Introduction
Local and state governments are increasingly called on to solve real problems for their constituents and deliver critical services using limited resources. Yet the way in which local governments typically operate has created a wide gap between citizens’ expectations and results. The emergence and widespread adoption of new technologies among citizens and government has created a sea change as these new tools empower municipal leadership to explore new opportunities to help the public sector break out of its hierarchical and rule-driven structures and reinvent itself.
The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance highlights the promising intersection of government and data through vivid case studies featuring municipal pioneers and big data success stories from Boston, Chicago, New York, and more. This is the ultimate resource for public officials, government staff, and civic leaders to understand how to leverage new technologies and data platforms to fulfill the promise of effective and efficient local government.
“In these pages, Goldsmith and Crawford expertly chronicle the now-global movement to improve governance through technology. Chicago embraced that movement early to become the leader in effectively leveraging data to meet the demand for a more responsive city.”
– Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago
“Steve Goldsmith and Susan Crawford offer a fascinating report from the frontier of innovation in government with the engaging stories of citizens working to replace the bureaucratic systems of the past with effective and accountable government for the twenty-first century.”
–Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives
“Focusing on outcomes for (and with) the public instead of compliance with rigid procedures is the hard work of local government in the twenty-first century. Goldsmith and Crawford show the way with real-world examples and an infectious optimism. This book matters to everyone who cares not just about city hall but about trust and faith in government in the modern era.”
–Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director, Code for America; former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer
THE TELECOM INDUSTRY AND MONOPOLY POWER IN THE NEW GILDED AGE
Ten years ago, the United States stood at the forefront of the Internet revolution. With some of the fastest speeds and lowest prices in the world for high-speed Internet access, the nation was poised to be the global leader in the new knowledge-based economy. Today that global competitive advantage has all but vanished because of a series of government decisions and resulting monopolies that have allowed dozens of countries, including Japan and South Korea, to pass us in both speed and price of broadband. This steady slide backward not only deprives consumers of vital services needed in a competitive employment and business market it also threatens the economic future of the nation.
This important book by leading telecommunications policy expert Susan Crawford explores why Americans are now paying much more but getting much less when it comes to high-speed Internet access. Using the 2011 merger between Comcast and NBC Universal as a lens, Crawford examines how we have created the biggest monopoly since the breakup of Standard Oil a century ago. In the clearest terms, this book explores how telecommunications monopolies have affected the daily lives of consumers and America’s global economic standing.
“Captive Audience held this reader captive from beginning to end. The broad themes make for compelling reading, but the entertainment value is in plots and subplots worthy of a thriller. Crawford also has a flair for making even difficult material understandable. Anyone who can make a page or so of easy reading from something as arcane yet important as telephone pole attachments should be up for a writers’ prize of some sort.”
– Michael J. Copps (Former FCC Commissioner), The Nation
“Susan Crawford’s new book, Captive Audience, details a host of challenges for the Internet and its users as this network enters middle age… As our Internet grows up, we need to look to the future and figure out ways to make it better. There is a role for activism and advocacy, but also one for our government to promote the public interest by ensuring that every American can participate in a free and fair communications market.”
–Tim Karr, The Huffington Post
“Crawford’s book is the most important volume to be released in the last few years that describes the sad — some might say embarrassing – state of the U.S. telecommunications market. Reasonable people can and do disagree about policy solutions, but the facts are not in dispute. … a vivid and eye-opening description of what ails America’s cable and telecom market, … it should be required reading for anyone interested in tech policy.”
–Sam Gustin, TIME